One of the first talks I went to about Palestine, was way back in January. Manal had texted me that morning asking if I wanted to go to the talk for Fairtrade Fortnight….and there was free food at Habibi afterwards. Well free food at Habibi sold it to me, I was there!
It was a talk by an Olive Farmer from Nablus whose oil was distributed (along with many others) under the name of Zaytoun. This talk happened way back when I had no idea about the land of Palestine and what was happening on a daily basis, and this talk shocked me. He spoke about how difficult it was to actually get to his land due to The Settlers and how the Israeli soldiers would set fire to crops and destroy trees on a regular basis. They burnt down an Olive tree that was reputed to have been over 2,000 years old…it had probably been there during the time of Christ! On a daily basis, these hard working men, who live off the land and want to continue to do so, are harassed and abused. All they want to do is live their lives in a quiet, peaceful way as their forefathers had.
Despite all the barriers that are put in his way, this farmer still attempted to continue his profession and make olive oil. This company helps the farmers with their harvest, they plant trees and help distribute the oil all over the UK. From his profits the farmer hopes to buy a small tractor to be used communally throughout his village.
They explained that the cost is higher than they would like, due to factors such as whole containers going missing- due to paperwork going astray or destroyed as it has to go through Israeli control. Purposely, bottles are smashed, so the farmers lose a lot of what they have produced. Having said that, I personally didn’t find £9 for a 750ml bottle of Ist cold pressed Olive Oil too much at all….especially as I know its provenance and what it had to go through to end up in my kitchen. It also helps that it is delicious!!
Zaytoun also distribute jarred olives, Za’ Atar (a delicious herb mix), Dates, Almonds, Cous Cous and Olive Oil soap.
Being as I met the farmer (unfortunately his name escapes me), I have decided that whilst in Palestine, I would like to visit Nablus and visit his Olive Farm. It will just make that olive oil not just dance off my taste buds, but give me a memory of his land every time I eat it!